The human submandibular gland: immunohistochemical analysis of SNAREs and cytoskeletal proteins

J Histochem Cytochem. 2012 Feb;60(2):110-20. doi: 10.1369/0022155411432785. Epub 2011 Nov 30.


Submandibular acinar glands secrete numerous proteins such as digestive enzymes and defense proteins on the basis of the exocrine secretion mode. Exocytosis is a complex process, including a soluble NSF attachment protein receptor (SNARE)-mediated membrane fusion of vesicles and target membrane and the additional activation of cytoskeletal proteins. Relevant data are available predominantly for animal salivary glands, especially of the rat parotid acinar cells. The authors investigated the secretory molecular machinery of acinar (serous) cells in the human submandibular gland by immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence and found diverse proteins associated with exocytosis for the first time. SNAP-23, syntaxin-2, syntaxin-4, and VAMP-2 were localized at the luminal plasma membrane; syntaxin-2 and septin-2 were expressed in vesicles in the cytoplasm. Double staining of syntaxin-2 and septin-2 revealed a colocalization on the same vesicles. Lactoferrin and α-amylase served as a marker for secretory vesicles and were labeled positively together with syntaxin-2 and septin-2 in double-staining procedures. Cytoskeletal components such as actin, myosin II, cofilin, and profilin are concentrated at the apical plasma membrane of acinar submandibular glands. These observations complement the understanding of the complex exocytosis mechanisms.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Middle Aged
  • SNARE Proteins / analysis*
  • Submandibular Gland / chemistry*
  • Young Adult


  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • SNARE Proteins